||Warning: You may not want your children to read some topics in this section.
Testing for genital herpes
Genital herpes and the risks for the baby
How can my baby get neonatal herpes?
Signs and symptoms of neonatal herpes
Reducing the chances of the baby getting neonatal herpes
Vaginal birth and herpes
Deciding to have a Caesarean
Partner with genital herpes
Genital herpes is a viral infection that can produce sores on the genitals, buttocks or around the anus. Up to 25% of pregnant women, and / or their partners, have genital herpes. Genital herpes are similar to oral herpes (cold sores), except the strains of virus are normally different. Oral herpes is usually caused by 'herpes simplex virus 1' (or HSV1) and genital herpes is usually caused by 'herpes simplex virus 2' (or HSV2). Occasionally, they can 'cross over' and cause infections in the opposite parts of the body. (Cold sores are experienced by up to 75% of the general population.)
Infection by the genital herpes virus can happen through skin-to-skin contact with a herpes sore. This may be through sexual intercourse, oral sex or touching the genitals of a person in whom the virus is currently active (or when the person is experiencing a herpes outbreak). The virus does not affect a person's fertility and is not transmitted by sperm.
When first infected, the virus enters the person's body and travels down their nerves to the genital area and lies dormant. The virus can then 'reactivate' at some time, causing an outbreak of a sore, or sores, on the genitals. This may be as early as 2 to 20 days after being first infected, or as long as months, or years after first being in contact with it. Some people carry the herpes virus and never have an outbreak (or are unaware of ever having an outbreak).